Todd Morgan, son of Rochester real estate developer Robert C. Morgan, pleaded not guilty Thursday morning in federal court in Buffalo to charges of bank and wire fraud following an indictment earlier in the week.
Morgan, a project manager at Pittsford-based Morgan Management and Morgan Communities, barely spoke during the half-hour proceeding before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Schroeder in downtown Buffalo, except to respond "I do" when asked if he understood the judge's directions.
His lawyer, David Rothenberg, submitted a "not guilty" plea to all counts against him, and declined to comment to reporters.
Morgan, along with his cousin Kevin and Buffalo-based commercial mortgage brokers Frank Giacobbe and Patrick Ogiony, are accused of conspiring to defraud banks into lending $167.6 million on seven apartment properties in New York and Pennsylvania, including two in Buffalo. A 62-count indictment accused the four men of tricking the banks into extending far more credit than the properties were actually worth, and then scheming to keep the lenders in the dark about the truth.
The Buffalo News first reported the federal investigation in October.
Giacobbe and Ogiony were arraigned Wednesday, while Kevin Morgan will be arraigned on Tuesday.
No charges have been lodged against Robert Morgan or his companies.
Schroeder accepted a $25,000 "signature bond" for Todd Morgan's release, subject to seizure of personal assets in case of violation. He also ordered Morgan, whose company's real estate empire extends to 14 states, to remain within the court's 17-county Western New York district and not to have contact with any witnesses – even his own family members, except to discuss family matters.
The judge ordered that the defendants will have six months to examine government documents and other evidence in the case against them, beginning July 27. That's a long period, but the judge noted that prosecutors had already indicated that the materials "will be substantial," and Rothenberg even called it "voluminous."
Pre-trial motions by the defendants aren't scheduled to be argued until March 27, 2019.